Sunday, September 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Look beyond fee hike in universities

Professor Harbhajan Singh Deol’s article “How universities can fund themselves” (Perspective, August 10) is very timely. Universities across the world have been facing financial hardship.

Now governments themselves are in the whirlpool of financial mess and thus are on the spree to cut down financial support to the universities. Governments and those who are at the helm of financial affairs in the universities, in the absence of innovative ideas, suggest hike in fee and other charges as panacea for all the financial ills. One fully agrees with Prof. Deol that this “fast food type approach” to generate resources has far-reaching ramifications for a developing society like India. Making education expensive by geometric progression would ultimately exclude lower middle class and poor from the temples of higher learning and thus sowing the seeds of social turmoil.

Prof. Deol has rightly suggested that universities must invent methods other than frequent hike in tuition fee. The source suggested by him, namely, industry has a huge potential. For tapping this potential, however, university system has to pay a price on many accounts. First, the universities have to modify their mission statements and objectives partially in tune with private corporate sector's major driving force, namely, profit. Secondly, traditional rule-bound bureaucracy administering financial affairs needs to be replaced by financial management professionals. And thirdly, the universities have to introduce practices such as frequent revision in syllabi as per the requirement of corporate sector, exchange of experts between university and industry, people from industry on decision-making bodies, flexible service conditions, purely merit based recruitment system and rigorous system of accountability.

Prof. B. S. Ghuman, Panjab University, Chandigarh


Romance of the mail

In his article “Mail retains its romance” (Windows, Aug 23), Mr Mohinder Singh has put wiser The Tribune readers about the history of the mail system. Really, I too was not having any idea of it till I read the point about shifting the burden from the addressee to the sender. But I realise that had the system of bearing the burden not changed, my 52 pages of letters to one of my friends, written in the seventies, must have cost too much at the receiving end.

At the same time, the electronic system has changed the entire scenario as it is cheaper than the postal system. Still, the people wait for the Post Man.

The status of the person is also being judged by the Post Man, with the number of mail received in the house. To keep the mail system alive, the postal authorities have to introduce attractive stationery on national days like Independence Day, Republic Day, Diwali, Dushera, Rakhi, Holi, etc. Then, there will be no reason why mail cannot retain its romance.

Harish K. Monga, Ferozpur City

Fill up vacancies

This refers to Mr Karam Singh’s article “What needs to be done in Punjab schools?” (Perspective, Aug 24). Indeed it is unfortunate that the results of the examinations held in primary schools in Punjab were very poor. Of course, the teachers cannot be blamed for the poor results as they are overburdened. There are so many vacancies. Also, some teachers have engaged unemployed youth to do their job. The Education Department is unable to tackle the menace. Identity cards should be issued to teachers to check this menace. Defaulters must be put behind bars.

Subhash C. Taneja, Rohtak

Missing the point

This refers to Mr M.L. Dhawan's analysis of the films released during 1995. While referring to Subhash Ghai’s “Trimurti”, the writer states that it was a big disaster at the box-office and that critics remarked that “Ghai had lost his Midas touch”.

But a very important point which the writer has failed to mention about the aforementioned movie is that it was directed by Mukul S. Anand.

This was the first time that Ghai engaged an outside director to handle a movie made under his Mukta Arts banner and the results turned out to be disastrous.

Ghai’s earlier films like “Hero”, "Karma”, “Ram Lakhan” and “Saudagar” which reflected his Midas touch, were all directed by himself.

Surendra Miglani, Kaithal

Quota for women

Ms Nanki Hans’ well-reasoned article “Quota for women: putting the cart before the horse” (Aug 31) is a timely warning against the creation of a new quota system — reservation of at least 30 per cent of the parliamentary seats for women — which is likely to invite more trouble.

Why is it that women do not come forward to participate in the elections? Sweden has no reservation, but affirmative action by women has now led to a situation in which more than 70 per cent of the members of Parliament there are women. In India, women are not equally forthcoming, and political parties do not field adequate numbers of women candidates. Is this only because society does not favour women in politics or are women themselves reluctant to adopt politics as a career?

I do not consider the parliamentary reservation necessary for tackling the real problems of women. We should re-evaluate their performance at the panchayat level where the woman is a proxy candidate and the husband calls the shots.

If women want adequate representation, the answer does not lie in tokenism. It lies in a drastic change in economic relationships which will bring women into the employment market in an ever-increasing manner.

However, we have thrown crumbs to the more militant women activists and swept the real problem of gender equality under the carpet.

K.M. Vashisht, Mansa

Whither judiciary?

Apropos of Mr Surya Prakash’'s article “National judicial panel is a cure worse than remedy” (Perspective, Aug 3), several cases of misconduct and corruption involving judges have come to light in the recent past. Such unedifying reports inevitably create an impression that the institution to which an ordinary citizen looks forward as the citadel of justice and the ultimate custodian of his rights is also adversely affected by the virus of prevailing decay which has earned India the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt and ill-administered countries.

Viewed in this context, the unfair practice of relations and kin of judges pleading cases in their courts is totally unacceptable. The Bar Council of India has reported that out of 490 High Court judges at present on the bench in India, kin of 130 are practising in the same courts. Howsoever fair the proceedings may be, these will lack transparency. Let us keep in mind the old adage that justice should not only be done but should also appear to have been done. In all fairness, either the judges concerned should seek their transfer to other High Courts or their kin shift their practice elsewhere.

It may take sometime for the National Judicial Commission to come up for looking into such matters. In the meantime, the judiciary can maintain its dignified position and play an impartial role by voluntarily rooting out the practices of controversial nature. Its own ethical code should be flawless as to inspire confidence with absolutely no room for suspicion.

K.R. Awasthy, Chandigarh

In nature’s lap

We thank Ms Gitanjali Sharma for her piece “Taking note of Baru Sahib, centre of excellence in nature’s lap” (Windows, July 19). We would, however, like to clarify that a lot of thought and deliberation has gone into over a period of time before taking the well considered decision to wean the students away from present TV-based permissive society.

“Early to bed and early to rise make a man (and woman) healthy, wealthy and wise” is not only traditional proverbial wisdom but is supported by latest research done in the UK and the US to establish the many benefits of holistic natural living by practicing (not merely preaching) Amrit Vela (period before sunrise), prayers (Nit Nem), contemplation, vegetarian diet and physical exercise (yoga).

Human race would have been extinct (60,000 years ago) when only 2,000 humans who were strict vegetarians passed through great hardship and developed brains, which distinguish Homo Sapiens (wise people) from Hominids and Ardipithecus.

In the 21st century, only the best and the fittest shall survive and for this right paniri to sprout, all of us and our children have to practice Amrit Vela, do Nit Nem and keep away from late night permissive TV serials.n

S.S. Gauba, Delhi

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